Ukraine police accused 35 soccer clubs of match fixing and began carrying out raids Tuesday, the BBC reported.
Neither Shakhtar Donetsk nor Dynamo Kiev are involved.
Shakhtar Donetsk and Dynamo Kiev, which have combined to win every league title since 1993, were not accused by the police, per the report. However, Vorskla Poltava and Zorya Luhansk, which finished third and fourth in the Ukrainian league, respectively, have been accused of involvement in match-fixing. Both clubs could be removed from the Europa League, per the Associated Press.
Overall, five of the Ukrainian Premier League’s 14 teams have been accused. Most of the match-fixing, however, involves lower-league teams that rarely, if ever, have their games televised, making match-fixing all the more difficult to track.
Suspects are believed to have made up to $5 million per year.
In a Facebook post, Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said that the 35 clubs that took part made up to $5 million a year. Avakov added that over 300 people — current and former players, referees, club presidents, arbitrators, trainers, coaches and commercial organizations — helped ensure the results of 57 matches. Police have released phone conversations with players and referees that featured bribes to 100,000 Ukrainian Hryvnia (over $3,800) for fixing matches.
“Ukrainian football must be fair play!” Avakov said in his post. He later called the match-fixing “dirty fraud.”
Avakov said suspects could face charges of bribery and match-fixing
The charges come just days before the UEFA Champions League final.
Real Madrid and Liverpool play for the UEFA Champions League title, Europe’s most prestigious club trophy, on Saturday at the NSC Olympic Stadium in the nation’s capital of Kiev on Saturday.
“UEFA was aware of the investigation and continues to support the FFU (Ukraine soccer federation) in its coordination with Ukrainian public authorities in taking this important action in the fight against match-fixing,” the European soccer body said in a statement.
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